Trump Winning the Opioid Fight, Says Prescriptions Down 34%
criminal-justice reform bill has helped 16,000 inmates into treatement
President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that opioid prescriptions are down by a third as more people enter addiction treatment.
Trump said he persuaded China to reel in fentanyl, a synthetic opioid responsible for killing tens of thousands of Americans, and that his criminal-justice reform bill has helped 16,000 inmates into drug-abuse treatment.
Moreover, the number of people receiving medication-assisted treatment has risen to more than 60% under his administration.
“We will never stop until our job is done, and then maybe we’ll have to find something new,” Mr. Trump told the Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta.
“We will succeed.”
The White House also said its efforts are paying off.
In September national drug-overdose death rate leveled off, and states like New Hampshire, West Virginia and Pennsylvania have seen significant decreases in deaths from overdoses.
The number of opioids prescribed decreased by 34 percent over the two years of Mr. Trump’s tenure.
“We’re making tremendous progress,” Mr. Trump said.
According to The Washington Times: The Georgia event had the feel of a stump speech at times, with Mr. Trump decrying “weak, pathetic” immigration laws, extolling his economic record and offering support for faith-based initiatives, before pivoting back to addiction.
More than 70,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2017, including nearly 48,000 from opioids alone.
Soaring death rates prompted Mr. Trump to label drug addiction to be a public health emergency during his first year in office.
Since then, Mr. Trump has pressed Chinese officials to crack down on fentanyl as part of trade talks and says his emerging border wall will thwart drug traffickers from Mexico.
Rep. Harold Rogers, Kentucky Republican, tied the drug problem to U.S. borders, saying Customs and Border Protection so much fentanyl last year, it was equivalent to a lethal dose for every American.
Mr. Trump signed a massive, bipartisan bill in October to stop the flow of synthetic drugs from abroad, increase treatment options and fund non-addictive painkillers.
Keith Humphreys, at Stanford University professor who tracks the opioids problem, said while Mr. Trump signed that bill, it was “the least he could do — literally,” while his public emergency on opioids allowed little more than “political theater,” so he can’t claim too much credit for any progress.
“It has been congressional leaders in both parties who have led the policy response to the opioid epidemic,” he said.
Mr. Trump’s advocates say his use of the bully pulpit was useful; however, drawing out $6 billion in new funding from Capitol Hill to combat the crisis.
First lady Melania Trump, meanwhile, has highlighted the impacts of opioids use on mothers and their babies as part of her broader “Be Best” initiative for families and children.
“Together, we are making real progress to help people recover, to support families, and to heal our nation,” Mrs. Trump told the crowd in Atlanta.
Looking forward, the White House is urging Americans to safely dispose of unused prescription opioids on Saturday at the latest “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.”
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway commended Google on Wednesday for launching tools that help people find one of 5,500 locations where they can turn in prescription drugs.